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Frank's Bar, Barcelona, Spain

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 10 01:13 PM

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The lure of Barcelona's nightlife has destroyed many a reputation. That's why we find the idea of dedicating a bar to creation--at least in terms of architecture--a refreshing concept. Behold Frank's Bar in the Hotel Arts Barcelona, a homage to the creative mind of starchitect Frank Gehry.

The bar honors Gehry's famous fish sculpture that sits on the waterfront adjacent to the hotel. The interiors draw from the palette of colors that the sculpture reflects throughout the day, from graphite to gold, plum to emerald. The arcs of the sofas, the geometry of the decorative moldings, and the diamond tufting of the ottomans draw lines of order, while signature margaritas (named after Gehry's wife, Berta) blur them. Sounds like the blueprint for a top Catalonian night out.

Photo: Davide Lovatti, Courtesy of Hotel Arts Barcelona

Salón Hecho, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, October 21 09:00 AM

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Just when we considered ourselves fluent in the upscale Mexican nightlife movement sweeping Nueva York, along comes Salón Hecho to school us in a whole new lingua franca of mezcales, micheladas, and curados.

Next to sister restaurant Hecho en Dumbo, the brand-new space is modeled on downtown Mexico City's hip neighborhood cantinas: part local watering hole, part performance space (Thursdays will feature live music), part showcase for the many moods of the agave plant. We're intrigued/borderline-scared about the cantina's signature tipples, abocados--mezcal traditionally infused with out-there flavors like juniper, lamb, and turkey. Owners Ethan Smith and Danny Mena assure us they'll be sticking to more benign spikings, however, including avocado and allspice. How do you say, "I'll ease into it with a margarita?"

Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Sentner

Bar Ilegal, Austin, Texas

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, October 07 07:00 AM

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Your dusty boots have trodden the weathered wood of unruly saloons all over the world. But so far, you've managed to stay on the right side of the law. Well, partner, there's a new bar in town, and it's got danger written all over it. Saddle up for a night at Austin's new Bar Ilegal (609 Davis Street).

This 1920s stone shack lit by a rusted iron candelabra serves up one thing and one thing only: Ilegal Mezcal. The smoky-smooth cousin of that rabble-rouser tequila comes in jicama bowls made for sipping. It's illegal in name only (the brand hails from Oaxaca). But what you do while under the influence? That's anyone's guess.

Photo: Courtesy of Bar Ilegal

The Tippler, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, October 04 11:32 AM

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Good news for New Yorkers whose favorite annual celebration is Repeal Day (December 5, for those taking notes): There's a new gin joint in town. Subterranean cocktail spot the Tippler has opened in a cavernous 3,000-square-foot space hidden beneath Chelsea Market.

It might be infused with sepia-toned nostalgia--including vaulted ceilings, original 1880s brickwork, salvaged water-tower timber, and railway tracks reclaimed from the neighboring High Line--but this watering hole has none of the speakeasy snobbery of its similarly appointed compatriots. There's Bud in bottles and cocktail categories like Fast & Furious (shots!) and Lushies (spiked slushies). Let's toast underground without the attitude.

Photo: Courtesy of the Tippler

The Everleigh, Melbourne, Australia

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, September 02 07:00 AM

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If you had any doubt that the visionaries behind New York's Milk & Honey and PDT would go to the ends of the earth to spread their cocktail gospel, the opening of their latest venture--in Melbourne, Australia--should prove it.

Plush new bar The Everleigh recently opened its doors (at the top of a flight of stairs behind an unmarked street door) on the seedy-turned-suave strip of Gertrude Street. Under the watchful eye of mixology maestro Sasha Petraske, The Everleigh's cocktail list is heavily weighted toward Gilded Era libations such as the Old-Fashioned and the Rum Fizz.

In a town renowned for its fantastic swank-on-a-shoestring bar scene, this joint--sporting now-familiar touches such as hand-cut ice, cozy leather booths, and a whiff of the speakeasy--fits in like a waxed mustache on an old-timey barkeep. And, yes, there will be waistcoats.

Photo: Courtesy of The Everleigh

Roxy/Josefine Nightclub, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, August 19 07:00 AM

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If there's one thing Brazilians have the lock on (aside from looking effortlessly sexy in swimwear), it's partying. And with more bars per capita than either Rio or São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, the cachaca-charged capital of central state Minas Gerais, is the place to shake your moneymaker--especially now that its famed Roxy/Josefine nightclub has been redesigned and reopened.

The four-year-old club's original architect Fred Mafra has transformed his former vision into a mind-bending array of hexagons and colored LED lighting, as if some honeybees set up shop on the Tron set. Two dance floors, three bars (in acoustically sheltered bays so bartenders can hear your order), and a smoking deck with a retractable roof all include prismatic trickery. In comparison, the beautiful people--straights on Wednesdays and Fridays (Roxy), gays on Thursdays and Saturdays (Josefine)--might as well be window dressing.

Photo: Courtesy of Jomar Bragança

Vodvil, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, July 29 07:00 AM

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It's game on for Vodvil, L.A.'s newest adult entertainment venue. But before you grab that pile of $1 bills, you should know that this adult entertainment comes with a PG rating. And prizes.

Vodvil is like game night for the stiletto set, with trivia, game show-style challenges, charades, and other classic fun. Tables play against each other for prizes such as penny candy or donations to charities. The look is haute-1960s rec room, with lemon, lime, and orange retro furniture. The menu includes pretzel bites, chips with onion dip, and bowls of punch (try the No Whammies with whiskey, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice). Add the private karaoke rooms, and it's pretty much the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Photo: Courtesy of Vodvil

Wilson and Wilson, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 21 01:33 PM

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Looking to add a little dose of intrigue to your average night out? The folks at Wilson & Wilson in San Francisco are mixing up some delicious (and drinkable) mystery on a nightly basis. Hidden down a series of passageways, through an unmarked door in Bourbon & Branch bar, the newly opened Wilson & Wilson got its name from a driver's license found in a purse wedged into the wall of this former speakeasy. How's that for a shadowy origin story?

Cocktails have names like "Truth Serum" (Highland Park whisky, Amaro Nonino, brown sugar cinnamon syrup, sarsaparilla aromatic bitters, licorice root), but this is no kitschy theme bar. Here you'll find some of San Fran's most talented mixologists, and an undercover cool vibe--think Sam Spade's office, only bathed in flickering candlelight. And the three-cocktail tasting menu might just give you the liquid courage to invite that doe-eyed dame by the door for a teapot tipple-for-two. Where it goes from there, well, we'll leave that to you, gumshoe.

Photo: Courtesy of Wilson & Wilson

Beacher's Madhouse, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 08 03:55 PM

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Beacher's Madhouse, a 1920s-style cabaret in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, is the most over-the-top bar to open in Los Angeles in years (and this is not a city known for subtlety).

Let us show you to your seat--it's just past the sexy librarian, through a trick bookcase wall, and inside a giant golden birdcage. Order at the Midget Bar (we don't make the names, it's labeled that way in neon), where a little person will make you mini cocktails in mini glasses. Looking for table service? A waiter flying through the air on a pulley system delivers the drinks. And don't get us started on the madcap cast of contortionists, monkeys, and mini Lady Gagas onstage. Oh, and half-naked ladies, too. This is L.A., after all.

Photo: Courtesy of Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Eataly's La Birreria, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 25 07:02 PM

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Blizzards and ice storms and snowpocalypses are giving way to warmth, and with that, the patios and gardens of New York City will fill with sunseekers. The newest alfresco fun? La Birreria, a 5,000-square-foot beer garden set to open later this spring on the roof of the Batali/Bastianich foodtopia, Eataly, in the Flatiron District.

Copper vats will turn out microbrews created by U.S. sudsmeister Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head fame and Italians Teo Musso of Birra Baladin and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo. The unfiltered, naturally carbonated brews will be hand-pulled through traditional beer engines and paired with pizza and sausages. And there's a retractable roof, should Old Man Winter decide to make a last-ditch appearance.

Photo: Courtesy of Samantha Decker

Wood & Vine, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, March 17 06:35 PM

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Today, your average American is gearing up to throw back a green beer (or four) in honor of St. Patrick's Day. But when it comes to drinking, you've always been above average. So we suggest that you celebrate like the real Irish do, with serious alcohol and people who know how to drink it.

Sure, the new Wood & Vine in Hollywood isn't an Irish bar, but that's exactly its selling point on this most green of days. Instead of elbowing through the amateur masses, you can sip one of the bar's small-batch whiskeys from the comfort of a buttery leather armchair. And you can't help but find the craic among the pretty people who flock here for truffled duck-fat fries. Good food, good friends, good drink. Just as St. Patty would have wanted it.

Photo: Courtesy of Wood & Vine

Ray's and Stark Bar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 11 07:17 PM

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Los Angeles
has its fair share of beautiful people. So it makes sense that one of the city's top museums would want to put that beauty on display. Enter Ray's and Stark Bar, the newest addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, named for Ray Stark, the late film producer and former LACMA trustee.

Ray's glass-box design, by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, makes people the exhibit. Outside, museumgoers observe diners noshing on seasonal Mediterranean fare prepared by chef Kris Morningstar (formerly of District and Mercantile). Inside, diners survey museumgoers frolicking in Chris Burden's famous lamp-post installation, Urban Light. The open-air Stark Bar offers similar people-watching opportunities as well as market-fresh cocktails. Just don't overdo it and make an exhibition of yourself.

Photo: Courtesy of Dustin Downing

Hubbard Inn, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 04 08:50 PM

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Travel lovers can't help but romanticize Ernest Hemingway's wanderings. Three such admirers have turned that adulation into--what else?--a bar.

Located on an up-and-coming foodie stretch in Chicago's River North neighborhood, the Hubbard Inn is decorated with what owners Daniel Alonso, Adolfo Garcia, and David Mitria envision Papa bringing back from his travels. Moroccan tiles line one wall, 1940s-style oil paintings hang on another, and more than 5,000 vintage books fill the bar's carved bookcases. The food served also tips its topper to the writer, incorporating ingredients from his journeys (Cabrales cheese, Medjool dates) as well as less literal interpretations such as stout burgers and earthy bone marrow.

Of course, no Hemingway tribute would be complete without booze--and lots of it. Here you'll find one of Chicago's best bourbon selections, new takes on classics like the Manhattan, and the author's namesake drink, made with 10 Cane rum, maraschino liqueur, and lime and grapefruit juices. Raise a glass (or eight) to big Papa.

Photo: Courtesy of the Hubbard Inn

The Dandelion, Philadelphia

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 11 04:15 PM

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The Beatles. Deep-fried candy bars. Colin Firth. Our neighbors across the pond have given us many gifts over the years. But this weekend, we're giving thanks for Britain's greatest export, the gastropub.

Philadelphia now has one to call its very own, courtesy of Stephen Starr's the Dandelion. This new watering hole hits all of the haute-pub highlights: cask ales, creative takes on hearty Brit classics (rabbit pie with cipollini onions, oyster mushrooms, and grain mustard), and hangover-curing morning fry-ups. The interiors feel lived-in, with two carved wooden bars, tartan-covered stools, and a mishmash of quirky ephemeraceramic dogs, souvenir plates, a life-size plastic cow. In other words, it's exactly the kind of place you'd raise a pint to.

The Istanbul Edition, Turkey

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, February 07 04:01 PM

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Istanbul is fast becoming one of Europe'sand Asia'shippest cities. And though there's no lack of luxury hotels, few tend to embody the modern sophistication of the city's cutting-edge nightlife scene.

That's why we're counting down the days till the March opening of the Istanbul Edition (the second property in a collaboration between megahoteliers Ian Schrager and Marriott). The hotel is all understated urban glamour, with loftlike rooms of polished rosewood and bronze. There's a two-story, 18,000-square-foot spa with sexy couples' beds suspended from the ceiling. And they're courting local tastemaker types with buzzy nightlife. The Web site is now open for booking. Get clicking, party people.

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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